Edmonton

City of Edmonton lays off another 60 staff during COVID-19 pandemic

The City of Edmonton has laid off another 60 employees in response to service changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New layoffs as city prepares to reopen facilities surprise union leader

The city has temporarily let go of more than 3,000 employees since March 30 due to reduced service and demand. (Natasha Riebe/CBC)

The City of Edmonton laid off another 60 employees this week in response to service changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The positions range from administrative to information technology to planning, Melissa Lovatt, a spokesperson for the employee services department, said in an email Tuesday. 

They include unionized and management positions in six of the city's seven departments where there has been a decrease in demand for service, she said. 

"As COVID-19 continues to take a significant financial toll on our organization, we must also continue to look for cost efficiencies," Lovatt said in a statement. 

The layoffs came as a surprise to Lanny Chudyk, president of the Civic Service Union local 52, who told CBC News that more than a dozen of the positions are at recreation centres. 

He said the union was scheduled to meet with city administration later this week to discuss reopening recreation facilities in Stage 2 of the province's relaunch, which is now set to begin Friday. 

"I was surprised to see the number of people that were laid off," Chudyk said. "This is a bit mystifying." 

Chudyk said he's even more perplexed after the province announced Tuesday that most businesses and city facilities will be allowed to reopen starting Friday.

The city has temporarily laid off more than 3,000 employees since March 30, including 500 from the Edmonton Public Library and nearly 500 from transit services. 

Administration projected it could save $35.8 million from layoffs and $24.8 million by not filling vacancies. 

Chudyk said he hopes the city considers hiring back some of the employees promptly, in light of the province's relaunch decision. 

"My members are really concerned now that maybe the layoffs are being put into place the way they are right now to save dollars to spend on something else." 

Chudyk said his members question the city's move to continue what he called non-essential projects, like reducing the speed limits to 40 km/h on residential roads at a cost of $2 million. 

@natashariebe

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